by Dan Schipp
Last month I wrote about the critical relationship between an non profit organization’s chief executive officer (CEO) and chief advancement officer (CAO).
I noted that the goal of a strong CEO/CAO relationship is to forge a partnership that enables each to be as effective as possible in their respective roles and with their unique skill sets.
How do you do that? Here are some practical suggestions.
Be clear about expectations.
The CEO and CAO have expectations of each other relative to their roles in advancing the mission, values and goals of the organization. They must communicate openly and authentically with one another about those expectations and be willing to hold the other person accountable for addressing mutually agreed upon goals. They must be committed to helping the other to be successful.
Understand the other’s work style.
Every individual has his/her preferences for communicating, making decisions, managing, and handling conflicts. For an effective relationship, it’s important for the CEO and CAO to acknowledge, understand, and respect the other’s preferences. Is business best conducted formally or informally? What communication is best done orally and what is best presented in writing (or email)? Is the CEO or CAO more likely to make a decision on the spot or need time to process the information?
Agree to disagree and then commit.
To state the obvious, the CEO and CAO are not always going to agree with one another. At times they will need to agree to disagree but commit to a plan of action regardless of underlying disagreements.
Don’t take the other for granted.
It’s easy to get caught up in the work and the drive for results. The CEO/CAO’s relationship needs to reflect concern and compassion. They need to offer and receive from each other honest feedback as well as encouragement and gratitude.
A strong relationship between a CEO and CAO sets the stage for non profit success. Let me know if there are other approaches that have helped you strengthen your leadership bond.